2.0 Beta developers Report
Dear Beta Tester,
This week we are rolling out our first update to Chip 2.0 since the middle of November. A few of you have been asking for updates (in terms of news and the app), and we wanted to do that in detail.
The last 7 weeks have seen some major changes to the back-end of the Chip application.
1. Direct-Debit supplier
We have completed the server migration of our Direct Debit supplier, which underpins the speed of our network. While both our previous and future sole-supplier have been helpful in resolving the arising technical challenges, and we want to go on record with our gratitude, the speed at which their sponsor banks have moved to push the transfer of mandates over the line has been different the speed at which we're used to in the Open Banking world. You're seeing the results of that by us bringing forward our 'Christmas maintenance' in order to give the old banking world time to catch up.
2. Bank Connections
A sizeable percentage of our beta users are having issues with their bank connections. With Chip 2.0 we have upgraded our middle-layer Bank Connection service to comply with the future facing oAuth2 standards of the Open Banking framework.
We had hoped that many of the CM9 banks had adopted this more secure version of the "API authentication handshake" by the PSD2 launch date in January of 2018, but it wasn't to be. Thankfully many banks have made improvements to their Open Banking connections in the last 12 months, giving us the green light to upgrade our middle-layer.
It's been a huge undertaking, even with help from the FinTech partnerships that we have, as we break new ground for many of the large banks. We are now ready to roll-out a new Chip phone application to test this new Bank Connect feature to all our 2.0 users. There will absolutely be some issue with some users and their bank connections, but the more details from users we have, the more we can work with the relevant banks to solve their problems.
3. 'e-wallet' expiry
With the "Open Banking Framework" being relatively immature, we ran into a design flaw with the original specification for 3rd party 'e-wallets' (the OBF standard system used for securely transferring your money in your name). They had an undocumented 'expiry date' to ensure that they weren't used as a replacement for current accounts, which meant that some transactional updates were returning null data once a card had been active for a certain amount of time. Money could always be accessed, withdrawn and returned directly to you, (or manually added to), but no automatic application could make changes.
The first two technological changes to the Chip application meant that we had been unable to 'refresh' the e-wallets (literally open a new one with the same credentials) until users had their mandate migrated to the new provider, and had a new bank connection through our more secure system. Hence many of you facing no auto-saves over the last few weeks.
4. Transactional updates
The last major server-side change is the to the way we handle our Salt Edge (the mechanism which allows us to access transaction data) updates. It's a more challenging but robust system, with a huge upside once in place. This was a large amount of work to go through each webhook at every stage of their API.
In the long run, it which will feed a more consistent data pipeline into our machine learning algorithm. Rather than getting batches of data several times a day, that we have to validate and reconcile, we'll start to see improvements to the auto-save service quicker in terms of accurate amounts and frequency. You won't notice a difference straight away, but it really will enable us to ensure Chip makes better decisions for those users who move away from our default savings setting.
5. iOS and Android minimum OS requirements
Finally, both the iOS and Android applications will come with a new set of minimum requirements. iPhone users must be on iOS 10 or above (current version is 12), and Android users use to be on Marshmallow/v6 (current is Pie/v9). This will affect just over 1% of our total users in Q1, who haven't upgraded the software on their phone in over 3 years. We strongly recommend that all users stay on the latest, and most secure version, of their phone operating system.
As an aside, a surprising number of our Chip users primary device is not a 'phone', but rather a tablet. Officially these devices are 'not supported', but if they meet the minimum Operating system criteria, then we're happy to allow them to be used for the time being. No bugs or issues will be fixed solely for tablet devices though.
One More Thing...
The last two test versions of the Chip 2.0 app have been installed by less than a quarter of possible users. We didn't want to send out too many messages during the raise as many of you are in several Chip channels, but we ask that you all update the application and connect your bank as soon as possible after the release.
The earlier we see the edge cases come through, the more likely it is that we can fix them (maybe even next week!). We will also be asking for a more detailed explanation of what the issue is, what phone & operating system you're on, and which bank you're with. The more information we have, the faster we'll get things resolved.
We thank you for your ongoing support and patience as we fix Chip 2.0 and deliver the best app possible.
Head of Engineering.